Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Memorial to Chamorro War Casualties in various wars
Skinner Plaza, Hagatña

Not all the Chamorros who died in World War II died on Guam. 

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
December 7, 1941

Six Chamorros died on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941

Many years ago, long before I had even heard of Chamorro casualties at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, I was visiting the Arizona Memorial and started reading the list of casualties engraved on a huge wall.  My eyes almost popped out when I saw names that had to be Chamorro, such as Fegurgur and Mafnas.  I had my suspicions about other men whose names were Spanish and therefore possibly Chamorro, but also possibly Filipino and Hispanic.  The Chamorros who died in Pearl Harbor were Navy mess attendants on the ships in Pearl Harbor that were attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.  Since this attack was several hours before the attack on Guam, these were the first Chamorro casualties of WWII.

The U.S. Navy would not allow Chamorros to join the Navy as anything but mess attendants.  But, as can be seen in this list, cooking, washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen for the United States Navy was enough to get you killed in war.  These men who died were assigned to the ships listed; "MA" stands for "Mess Attendant;" "1C or 2C" for "1st or 2nd Class."

USS Arizona
MA 1C Gregorio S.N. Aguon
MA 2C Nicholas S.N. Fegurgur
MA 2C Francisco Reyes Mafnas
MA 2C Vincente Gogue Meno
MA 2C Jose Sanchez Quinata
MA 2C Francisco Unpingco Rivera
USS Nevada
MA 1C Andres F. Mafnas
USS Oklahoma
MA 1C Ignacio C. Farfan
MA 2C Jesus F. Garcia
USS West Virginia
MA 2C Jose S.N. Flores
MA 1C Jesus M. Mata
MA 1C Enrique C. Mendiola

Wake Island
December 8-23, 1941

Only recently did I learn about the Chamorro casualties on a little-known battle site : Wake Island.  Forty-five Chamorro men were working on Wake when the Japanese attacked on December 8.  It took a while, but the Japanese finally occupied Wake on December 23.  Chamorros were among the casualties there, too.  The surviving Chamorros were sent to POW camps in Japanese-held positions in China, and then later some went to Japan and other to Japanese-held Korea.  Some died in these places, too, during the war.

The United States Congress did not recognize these Chamorro survivors of Wake and subsequent POW camps as veterans, with military benefits, until 1988.
Francisco Chaco Carbullido
Chamorro Survivor of the Battle of Wake Island and POW camps in China and Japan

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